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State of the Capital – Weekly Political Wrap 16/10/14

By John Hope - 16 October 2014 3

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ACTEW: Money down the drain

As money was sucked down the drain from the ACT taxpayer, it fell from the sky for ACTEW’s top brass this year as new Managing Director John Knox flushed away some heavy waste. Including long-service leave, Ex-Managing Director Mark Sullivan left the job this year with a miserly termination package of $778,000 and Deputy Chief Ian Carmody received a pint-size total payment of $441,000. The cash continued to flow with Company Secretary Michele Norris settling with a stingy $384,000 whilst Chief Financial Officer Simon Wallace collected a humiliating haul of $297,000. Now that that’s all out of the way, I guess we can expect higher standards for the use of public money. How much is Knox on again? Oh that’s right, the same as his predecessor.

Another blow for light rail

Yet another blow has been dealt for the Government’s light rail plans, this time, by a heavy-weight. Former ACT Treasury official and economist David Hughes has attacked the light rail project as a silly ‘folly’ claiming that it won’t deliver a fair deal for Canberrans. Hughes accused the Government of failing to put forth a convincing case for the $800,000,000 white elephant. But Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell has come out swinging asserting that Hughes has a long history of being indisposed to public transport. Corbell has also reiterated that the full business case for the project will be released by the end of the month. When asked on 2cc by Marcus Paul what David Hughes would suggest the ACT do about its transport situation, Hughes said, after some humming ard harring, ‘I think we should take a look at our buses’. Thanks David. It seems that the ACT is caught between two conflicting, and possibly unreasonable forces. The first is an ideological opposition to the car, and the second is an ideological opposition to spending public money. The important fact to remember is that the ACT Government will not fall for Rattenbury’s pipe dream in 2016. If I was a naysayer, I would wait for the end of the month.

Medicinal Cannabis – one step forwards, one step backwards

Despite an increasingly impatient and grumbly Greens minister Shane Rattenbury, the ACT Government will join a Commonwealth-backed clinical trial of medicinal cannabis which will be led by the NSW Liberal Government. Rattenbury has accused the ACT Government of yet another stalling tactic arguing that people are suffering now and that there is more than enough evidence to support legalising the substance under strict conditions. The real question for Canberrans is: why is the ACT Government moving so reluctantly on this issue? Most MLAs agree that legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes is a good idea. The only possible reason is that moving too quickly would be politically inexpedient. The other question is: if other Liberals throughout Australia are moving on the issue, why the hell aren’t the Canberra Liberals? It’s not as if they’re going to lose any votes over it.

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3 Responses to
State of the Capital – Weekly Political Wrap 16/10/14
HiddenDragon 5:51 pm 16 Oct 14

“…..It seems that the ACT is caught between two conflicting, and possibly unreasonable forces. The first is an ideological opposition to the car, and the second is an ideological opposition to spending public money….”

There certainly is some ideological opposition (often of the “do as I say, not as I do”) kind to cars in the ACT, just as there is to the spending of public money (“bah humbug to public spending unless it benefits me and mine”), but I reckon most Canberrans are somewhere closer to the middle on the tram proposal. Aside from those who think they will benefit from it, one way or another, others may be supporting it because of the “vision thing”, and the sense that something a bit interesting might happen in our sleepy town.

On the other side, I think the concerns about the finances are genuine, not reflexive and ideological – regardless of what we are told, including by rating agencies, about the wondrous state of ACT finances. By comparison, while I recall concerns, some of them fairly well justified, about details and delays with the Gungahlin Drive Extension, and the big expanded dam, I don’t recall anything like the same concerns being expressed publicly about the costs and ultimate value-for-money of either of those projects – perhaps because most people could see that, overall, they served a worthwhile purpose.

dungfungus 12:59 pm 16 Oct 14

Re Actew money down the drain, whatever happened to the deal ActewAGL and Better Place Australia signed for the supply of renewable energy to the now defunct Better Place’s electric car charging network in Canberra?
How much money was lost?
This supply agreement was worth approximately $60 million over 10 years, and was the largest renewable energy deal of its kind in Australia at the time.
I couldn’t find any mention of it in Actews’ last Annual Report however it could have been hidden in details that were missing which the auditor qualified.

Pragmatix 10:37 am 16 Oct 14

I suppose it costs ACTEW money to save money but you would think for a publicly owned company, they could find capable CEOs for less.

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